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An approach to the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) status in Indochina
by Luis Santiago Cano Alonso (Spain)
Department of Zoology, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid. Spain.
Email: [email protected]
The Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) has the most extensive breeding range of any stork (Hancock
In spread sense, the presence of the Black Stork has decreased during the last decades in Indochina,
et al. 1.992). The estimation of global extent of occurrence is of 1.000.000-10.000.000 km²
especially in Thailand, Lao and Vietnam (Strange, 2.003; Duckworth et al. , 2.002; Nguyen Duc Tu and Hung
Le Manh, pers. com.). There is not any known recent record for Cambodia, in spite of considering the
species as a vagrant bird for this country (Strange 2.003). However, the presence of the Black Stork is
(Birdlife International 2.007) through three biogeographic realms. It is a widespread, but rare,
breeding species that discontinuously ranges from Western Palearctic to the far East
continuous in the North and West of Myanmar during the wintering period (Li & Mundkur, 2.004 and 2.007),
in the Northwestern extreme of the Indochina peninsula (figure 3). Briefly, this is the situation:
Palearctic, mostly between 40º and 60º N (Del Hoyo et al. 1.992). It also breeds in Southern
Africa from Zambia, Namibia and Malawi to Cape province, in the Afrotropic, where is a
Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR)
wintering area for this species. The third ecozne occupied by the Black Stork is the
Indomalayan ecozone, where is officially a wintering and vagrant species (figure 1).
It is a species at risk in Lao (Duckworth et al. 2.002). The recent Lao records come only from the Nakai
Plateau and Chiang Saen. Formerly it was an infrequent winter visitor to the Plain of Jars and, probably much
more commonly, to the Upper Lao Mekong (Duckworth et al. 2.002). The Black Stork has no been recorded in
The most detailed and completed information of the species is focused on the Western
Palaearctic population. The lack of information about the Black Stork is especially few and
the Asian waterbirds census from 1.997 to 2.004 (Li & Mundkur, 2.004 and 2.007).
scattered in the Indomalayan ecozone, and particularly in Indochina, the Southeastern
extreme of the distribution area. There is not a compilation approach of the current and
available recoveries from local and international birders and historical bibliographic information
It is an endangered species in Thailand. The Black Stork is considered a declining species as wintering bird
in Thailand from the last decades (Strange, 2.003; Round, 2002). There are few records in the last decade,
because is a rare species. This communication only pretends to provide a first overview of the
current status of the Black Stork in Indochina.
Figure 1. Distribution of the Black Stork around the world.
Source: Modification from
Area of Study
Indochina, or the Indochinese Peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia, between the East of
India and South of China (figure 2). Indochina is located approximately from 26º N to nearly
the equator line and between 96º E and 110º E. Indochina comprises, in the wider sense
(better described as Mainland Southeast Asia) the territories of the following countries:
Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR), Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Traditionally Vietnam is also divided in three different
including in the Asian waterbirds census in 2.001 (Li & Mundkur, 2.007). In Thailand, there are still places
where the records of Black Stork remain practically every year at the present (BSCT bulletins, several
years), mainly in the North, and especially in the Golden Triangle (Chiang Saen, Chiang Mai).
There are not relevant references about the Black Stork in Myanmar in the classical bibliography (Del Hoyo et
al. 1.992; Hancock et al. 1.992). However, nowadays, the Black Stork is a common wintering species in
the North and West of Myanmar, at least from the end of nineties, though the number of individuals is
variable every winter season; from less 100 to more than 300 individuals (Li & Mundkur, 2.004 and 2.007). The
known presence in the West of the country comes from the middle nineties (Robson et al. 1.998). Thanks to
the international project “New Odyssey” (, in the internet), we already know
Figure 3. Wintering distribution of Black Stork in Indochina.
that part of those storks come from central Mongolia, and show fidelity to the wintering places, like in Western
ornithological regions (Robson 2.005): Tonkin (North Vietnam), Annam (Central Vietnam) and
Conchinchina (South of Vietnam, low Mekong river area). The Black Stork has been cited for
all these countries of the Indochina peninsula except Singapore and Malaysia.
Thought it is considered a vagrant species in Cambodia (Robson, 2.005), there are not found records available
for this approach.
I have been gathering information about Black Stork in the far East, and particularly from
Indochina through different sources:
¾Library of BirdLife International in Indochina, Vietnam,
¾Reports, journals, check lists, monitoring and project programmes, regional and local census
which are available in the internet,
¾Personal records and comments from zoologists, specialists, ornithologists, birding guides,
The species has been cited for Viet Nam from long time ago to at the present (Hung Le Manh, pers. com.) ,
concretely it has been located in Tokin –North of Viet Nam-, along the Red river basin (Nguyen et al. 2.000;
Robson, 2.005). However, there is not any record for this species in the last time in Tonkin, though the
number of birder and monitoring programmes have increased (Nguyen Duc Tu and Hung Le Manh, pers.
com.). Only It have been gathered two records in the last decade -1 individual in 2.000 and another in
2.001- (Li & Mundkur, 2.004, Vy et al. 2003), both in Cat Tien National Park (Annam region).
managers of ecotourism projects in birding areas,
The status and distribution of the Black Stork in far eastern Asia in general, and South-East Asia in particular,
¾Birding online forums in Asia,
¾General and specific bibliography on Black Stork.
Figure 2. Indochina peninsula, in the far East.
All information gathered on Black Stork from Indochina has been analyzed under a historical
perspective, including the information from the breeding and wintering regions of Asia (mainly
from the Peninsula of Korea and China) to try to understand possible changes of the species in
the South-East Asia. Finally, it has revised the status of the Black Stork from the IUCN Red Liat
This communication has been possible thanks to few colleagues and friends, specially
to Josefa Alonso for her understanding. Alejandro Torés Sánchez is author of the
figures of this panel, and his comments improved the presentation. Dr. José Luis
Tellería Jorge encouraged me to do this first approach. Belén Vázquez de Quevedo
supported me from Vietnam, and also from Spain. I would like to extend my grateful
thanks to Bao Weidong, Nial Moores, Nguyen Duc Tu and Hung Le Manh for their very
useful comments.
of Threatened Species ( and Birdlife
Species Factsheet data
BirdLife International 2004. Ciconia nigra. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 28 March 2008.
Viet Nam
have been changing along the last century as It has happened in Western Paleartic, but it has not been
described in detail. During the first decades of the last century, the breeding population disappeared at least
from South Korea (Hancock 1.992; Nial Moores, pers. com.), and at the same time, the species has became
BirdLife International (2.007) Species factsheet: Ciconia nigra. Downloaded from on 23/3/2008.
BSCT bulletins, several numbers;
Carey, G. J., Chalmers, M. L., Diskin, D. A., Kennerley, P. R., Leader, P. J., Leven, M.
R., Lewthwaite, R. W., Melville, D. S., Turnbull, M. and Young, L. (2001) The avifauna
of Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Birdwatching Society.
Del Hoyo, J., Elloit, A., Sargatal, J. eds. (1.992). Handbook of the Birds of the World.
Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Duckworth, J.W., Davidson, P., Evans, T.D., Rounds, P.D. and Timmins, R.J. (2.002).
Bird records from Laos, principally the Upper Lao/Thai Mekong and Xiangkhouang
Province, in 1998–2000. FORKTAIL 18: 11–44
Hancock, J.A., Kushlan, J.A., Kahl, M. P. (1.992). Storks, Ibises, and Spoonbills of the
World. Academic Press. New York.
Li Z.W.D. and Mundkur, T. (2.007). Number and distribution of waterbirds and wetlands
in the Asia-Pacific region. Result of the Asian Waterbirds Census: 2002-2004.
Wetlands International, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Li Z.W.D. and Mundkur, T.( 2004). Number and distribution of waterbirds and wetlands
in the Asia-Pacific region. Result of the Asian Waterbirds Census: 1997-2001.
Wetlands International, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
New Odyssey project.
really rare of Asia during the wintering season in some parts, where a decline is also evident; Hong Kong
(Carey et al. 2.001) and the Indochina peninsula (except North and West of Myanmar) would be two good
examples. On the other hand, new wintering places have been described in China, even close to Beijing
Nguyen C., Trai, L.T., Phillipps, K. (2.000). Chim Viet Nam. Birdlife International in
Robson, C. (2.005). New Holland field guide to the Birds of South-East Asia. New
Holland Publishers (UK).
for Lao and Vietnam in stead of native species as the Birdlife species Factsheets data considers
Robson, C.R., Buck, H., Farrow, D.S., Fisher, T. and King, B.F. (1998). A birdwatching
visit to the Chin Hills, West Burma (Myanmar), with notes from nearby areas.
FORKTAIL 13: 109–120.
Strange, M (2003). A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia: Including the
Philippines and Borneo. Princeton Field Guides.
(Weidong, pers. Com.). From this first approach, It is suggested considering the Black Stork a vagrant species
Vy, N.T., Hao, NH, Tinh L.V.; Hung T.D.; Su, N.V. Water-Related birds survey in Cat
Tien National Park-Vietnam 2003. Technical Report Nº 45. February 2003.